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Teenagers and Cell Phone Addiction

Updated on July 19, 2010

Teens already make up the majority of the world's cell phone users, and the numbers continue to grow.  While approximately 71% of Canadian and American teens own their own cell phone, 96% of Japanese students between the age of 16 and 17 have their own mobile phone as well.

Teens are lining up to buy the latest and greatest cell phones, but talking isn't always their #1 priority.  Text messaging, gaming, MP3 capabilities, and Internet access are among the most sought after features. With so much power and function crammed into one small device, teens become reliant on it, and it becomes more difficult to curb their usage.  Like many other cell phone users, teens feel the need to carry their phones with them wherever they go, so they'll never miss a call or a text message.  This trend also contributes to the increased number of automotive accidents related to cell phone use.  Over 20% of fatal car crashes involving American teenage drivers were the direct result of cell phone use.

Should we brush this off as stupid recklessness or is there something more to it?  When someone becomes so reliant on any one item, it is often referred to as an addiction.

But can teens really be addicted to an electronic device like a cell phone?  Many parents have noticed changes in behavior with their teenage offspring, including paranoia as it relates to missing a call or text message. Some teens show signs of depression and anxiety when they do not have access to their cell phone.  Others are facing problems in school as it relates to their cell phone obsession. While not everyone is jumping at the bit to label this obsession as a "disease", there are an increasing number of clinics that are now treating this in the same fashion as they would alcoholism or a gambling addiction.

And while alcoholism has a twelve-step program, what can parents do to help their cell-phone-addicted children?

The first step is to help add structure to the teenager's usage.  Set times for when the cell phone should be turned off.  Track their usage.  And if necessary, switch them to prepaid cell plan to help curb their usage.

Another way to cope with the problem is find activities that would minimize the use of their phone.  Attend a sport event or a concert, take in a movie at the theater, or just spend a night out with friends.  If they are too busy enjoying themselves, they will be less concerned with miss a text message.

If you can't seem to curb their usage, don't be afraid to seek help.  Contact a therapist or a treatment centre about your teenager's problem.  There may be more to their addiction than you anticipated, and they can help them with finding a happy and healthy balance.


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      5 years ago

      very true article because i myself cannot stay without my phone i am not addicted but i just have to have my phone with me at all times

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      6 years ago

      Some1 stole my 4nd nd they stll use my fb account

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This is very true. today my friend stole my phone and took it home with her and didn't give it back to me and I ended up going home and crying because I didn't have my cell. So very true article


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